Remembrance Day 11/11/18

The 100th Anniversary of the Armistice of WWI, reminded me of a beautiful poem by Christina Rossetti, titled ‘Remember’. I referenced this poem in a ballet of the same name, which I choreographed many years ago on the themes of war, love and loss.

May all those who died, rest in peace in God’s loving arms.

And here is the poem:

Remember

By Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann’d:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

Red Poppy Remembrance Day YLow.jpg

Travel Sketchbook Workshop

I’ve just taken part in a wonderful travel sketch class with artist Sheila Posner at Gallery 307 in Sydney and picked up some great tips. Of course, there was no ‘teleporting’, so we worked today from some of Sheila’s many trip photos, imagining (longing..) being there.

I’ve wanted to loosen up my work a bit and have more confidence when drawing en plein air, and especially with adding loose washes.

Sketching/painting ‘on the run’ is a no-holds barred way of creating art - really anything goes, but it’s good to know what works well.

Remember, what you’re creating is not a photograph so you don’t need to include every detail - feel free to edit as you go! Sheila prefers a non-waterproof ink pen as she enjoys the spontaneity of ink runs and it’s really quite liberating. She also recommends jotting written notes on the image - whether it’s the location, the country, the time of day, what you had for lunch… Any other thought bubble at the time of creating the image. All of these things will help to ‘bring back the moment’ later.

What a great way to document a trip, with a visual travel diary. Am definitely inspired to do more!

 Here are some of my sketches today - this one’s Venice.

Here are some of my sketches today - this one’s Venice.

Travel Sketch class YLow 'Spain'.jpg

This one’s from Spain.

 This one’s from Italy.

This one’s from Italy.

 Teacher Artist Sheila Posner demonstrating with initial line work.

Teacher Artist Sheila Posner demonstrating with initial line work.

Illustrator Spotlight

I had a great time interviewing talented author/illustrators Aura Parker and Jules Faber at the Illustrator Spotlight Panel, during the recent CBCA Northern Sydney Sub-branch meeting on Wednesday 8 August.

I was able to tease out some fascinating facts about their backgrounds and development as artists and their varied experiences working in the children’s publishing industry. The audience were enthralled by their quite different approaches in creating their illustrations in particular.

Who knew that Jules Faber developed his techniques in his early years at such unusual venues as nightclubs and weddings, and that he is soon to have his very own ‘Jules Font’!

I had a myriad of questions ready to ask, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for everything. My last question was what do they do when disaster strikes, and it was reassuring to know that these two talented artists can make mistakes and it is what they do to avert disaster which makes them the professionals that they are…

We also had time for some ‘Book Babies’, including mine!

A wonderful night was had by all.

 Here I am with the talented duo, Aura Parker and Jules Faber, asking some tricky questions…

Here I am with the talented duo, Aura Parker and Jules Faber, asking some tricky questions…

 Yvonne Low with Jules Faber and Aura Parker.

Yvonne Low with Jules Faber and Aura Parker.

 My ‘Book Baby’ moment

My ‘Book Baby’ moment

CBCA Author Afternoon Tea at St Kevin's Primary School

Had a great time at St Kevin's Primary School, Dee Why on 8 August.  Presented to two groups of lovely students, Years 3 and 5.  We had fun exploring Paris in 1910 with Jack of Spades (Sophie Masson, Christmas Press) and went flying into space with The Fastest Ship in Space (Pamela Freeman, Second Look Publishing).

I was part of a small group of authors and illustrators presenting to the school including Jan Latta, Belinda Murrell, Jules Faber, Brydie Wright and Anne Donnelly.

 One of my internal illustrations from  The Fastest Ship in Space .

One of my internal illustrations from The Fastest Ship in Space.

The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman illustrations by YLow.jpg
Jack of Spades illust by Yvonne low.jpg

'Forgotten Songs'

Found myself recently at Angel Place, Sydney in the gorgeous laneway, with evocative art installation 'Forgotten Songs' by Michael Thomas Hill.  For me, it's such a special place - a place to look up, listen, imagine and wonder...  And it's also a reminder that a bird flying free is a beautiful thing....

Michael's work commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they gradually moved away due to European settlement.  There's a detailed explanation on the City of Sydney Council website explaining the story behind the artwork and the creative team who put it together - truly an 'audio-visual' feast.

As Michael puts it: the work invites 'contemplation of the city's past, its underlying landscape, and the sustainability issues associated with increased urban development.'  It really is an 'interplay of past and present'.

The birds call as you move down the laneway - and the calls change whether it is daytime or at night.  Don't forget to look down as well - there are plaques in the stone work naming the featured birds.  

 'Forgotten Songs' at Angel Place, Sydney

'Forgotten Songs' at Angel Place, Sydney

Birdcages Angel Place 2.jpg
Birdcages Angel Place 3.jpg

A Fun Day Out

Here's my illustration entry for the recent New England Writers' Centre Illustration Prize Competition, on the theme of 'A Fun Day Out'.  The brief was to create an illustration suitable for a children's picture book.

 My illustration entry for 'A Fun Day Out'.  The toys are going on an adventure of their own, for a fun day out.

My illustration entry for 'A Fun Day Out'.  The toys are going on an adventure of their own, for a fun day out.

Double Book Launch

On Saturday 30 June at The Children's Bookshop Beecroft, a fun double-book launch took place hosted by wonderful Paul Macdonald. This featured a new edition of The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman, for which I created the illustrations, and The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock by debut author (and Pamela's husband) Stephen Hart, with illustrations by Kathy Creamer.

A great turn out was on hand to hear Cassandra Gold's beautiful words launch Stephen's time-slip novel, followed by Christmas Press Publisher Sophie Masson's launch of Pamela's exciting space novel.

 Front Cover of  The Fastest Ship in Space  (Cover and internal illustrations by Yvonne Low)

Front Cover of The Fastest Ship in Space (Cover and internal illustrations by Yvonne Low)

 Always charming Sophie Masson launching Pamela Freeman's  The Fastest Ship in Space .

Always charming Sophie Masson launching Pamela Freeman's The Fastest Ship in Space.

 I'm showing one of my illustrations from  The Fastest Ship in Space .  Two of the main characters, Katie and Sam are enjoying zero gravity inside their space ship!

I'm showing one of my illustrations from The Fastest Ship in Space.  Two of the main characters, Katie and Sam are enjoying zero gravity inside their space ship!

 Internal illustration from  The Fastest Ship in Space .

Internal illustration from The Fastest Ship in Space.

 Author Pamela Freeman talks about how she came to write her space adventure novel.

Author Pamela Freeman talks about how she came to write her space adventure novel.

 Sophie Masson, me, Pamela Freeman, Stephen Hart and Cassandra Golds.

Sophie Masson, me, Pamela Freeman, Stephen Hart and Cassandra Golds.

 Yvonne Low (Illustrator) with Pamela Freeman (Author) and  The Fastest Ship in Space .  I'm holding a delicious space rocket biscuit which Pamela baked especially for the launch!

Yvonne Low (Illustrator) with Pamela Freeman (Author) and The Fastest Ship in Space.  I'm holding a delicious space rocket biscuit which Pamela baked especially for the launch!

 Sophie Masson, Paul Macdonald, Yvonne Low, Pamela Freeman and Stephen Hart.

Sophie Masson, Paul Macdonald, Yvonne Low, Pamela Freeman and Stephen Hart.

 Sophie with  The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock , me with  The Fastest Ship in Space , dynamic author-duo Pamela and Stephen.

Sophie with The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock, me with The Fastest Ship in Space, dynamic author-duo Pamela and Stephen.

Books in Homes Role Model - Book Giving Assembly

Today I had the pleasure of presenting at an inner city Sydney school, Bridge Road School, which is doing wonderful things for local K-6 kids.

I was appearing as a Books in Homes Role Model as a writer/illustrator at their Book Giving Assembly and had fun showing the students some of my illustrations, especially those inspired by books.  Then, it was time to help hand out the wonderful bags of brand new books organised by Books in Homes and their program sponsor, and to see the excited children exploring what was inside their own bag.

Fostering a love of reading and books is a gift for life!

 One of my illustrations, which the students loved.

One of my illustrations, which the students loved.

Author Illustrator Afternoon Tea at St Joseph's School Narrabeen

Pelting rain, hail, thunder and lightning (and even a wayward pigeon) did not dampen the spirits and excitement of the students at St Joseph's.  Part of a group of fellow CBCA writer members, it was a treat to present at this school near the beach and I enjoyed explaining my illustration process for Sophie Masson's spy novel, Jack of Spades.  The girls and boys were wonderfully responsive and engaged, as was evidenced by the enthusiastic line queueing afterwards for book sales!

Both Jack of Spades and the new edition of The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman, were snapped up by eager readers.

 Fellow presenters, Brydie Wright, Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti, Oliver Phommavanh, Wendy Fitzgerald, Yvonne Low, Fran Jones (Teacher Librarian St Joseph's) and Wendy Blaxland.

Fellow presenters, Brydie Wright, Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti, Oliver Phommavanh, Wendy Fitzgerald, Yvonne Low, Fran Jones (Teacher Librarian St Joseph's) and Wendy Blaxland.

 A pigeon chose to visit the school library just before presentations - looking bemused at an unusual library 'resident'!

A pigeon chose to visit the school library just before presentations - looking bemused at an unusual library 'resident'!

La Dame à la Licorne

Bienvenue à Sydney!  Wonderful to see the gorgeous The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries being exhibited at the AGNSW.  I've now had the joy and privilege of seeing them three times over the past 30 years or so, twice at the fascinating Musée de Cluny in Paris.  Great to linger again and admire the intricate details and amazing 3D effects incorporated into the design and weave.  Such craftsmanship for the medieval age...

I love the detailed plants and the creatures, especially the collection of rabbits, many of them with personalities and emotions.

 'A mon seul désir'

'A mon seul désir'

 Beautiful little rabbits inhabiting the millefleurs gardens of The Lady and the Unicorn.

Beautiful little rabbits inhabiting the millefleurs gardens of The Lady and the Unicorn.

Launch of The Fastest Ship in Space

Come along to the launch of The Fastest Ship in Space, at The Children's Bookshop Beecroft on Saturday 30 June 4.00pm.  It's going to be a fun double book launch with The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock and a chance to meet authors Pamela Freeman and Stephen Hart, along with illustrators myself and Kathy Creamer.

Launch Flyer The Fastest Ship in Space.jpg

The Fastest Ship in Space

Very excited to announce that the new edition of Pamela Freeman's middle-grade novel The Fastest Ship in Space has gone to the printers and will be released shortly!  I created the cover and internal illustrations for this wonderful action packed adventure story.

 The front cover for Pamela Freeman's The Fastest Ship in Space, illustrations by Yvonne Low

The front cover for Pamela Freeman's The Fastest Ship in Space, illustrations by Yvonne Low

Contract with Little Pink Dog Books

So thrilled to announce that I've recently signed a contract with Armidale Publisher Little Pink Dog Books to create a wonderful new picture book Lola and Grandpa with author Ashling Kwok.  Already having fun brainstorming my illustrations!  Visit www.LIttlePinkDogBooks.com for more information.

 Visit Little Pink Dog Books Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LittlePinkDogBooks/ to find out more.

Visit Little Pink Dog Books Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LittlePinkDogBooks/ to find out more.

The Fastest Ship in Space

Very excited to announce that a brand new edition of Pamela Freeman's adventure novel, The Fastest Ship in Space is soon to be released in May.  I've created the front cover and internal illustrations for this fun middle-grade novel.   Here's a sneak preview of one of my images!

 One of my internal illustrations for the novel  The Fastest Ship in Space  by Pamela Freeman.

One of my internal illustrations for the novel The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman.

Feathers of the Firebird blog

Sophie Masson's blog, Feathers of the Firebird features a post written by me today, in her new series called '2017 Book Discovery'.

I discovered a fascinating book this year, Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson, a gripping read about real-life modern day divers, who are passionate to the point of obsession, about undersea diving and searching for sunken treasure.  

I love to travel and enjoy reading travel memoirs from exotic locations, so Pirate Hunters was the perfect book to take away with me on a recent beach holiday.  I gazed out to sea and imagined what sunken galleons and buried history might be waiting to be discovered...

Pirate Hunters Kurson.jpg

4 Star Review of A Christmas Menagerie!

A great review by Merle Morcom in the latest issue of Good Reading Magazine of A Christmas Menagerie.  

'Christmas is a wonderful time to give a gift of a special book to a child.  A Christmas Menagerie...is just that sort of book.' 

A Christmas Menagerie would make a great stocking-filler!

Christmas Press A Christmas Menagerie review Good Reading.jpg

Arree Chung webinar - Dummy Books

Just participated in a very useful SCBWI webinar with author/illustrator Arree Chung.  Arree was focussing on the process and reason for creating Dummy Books in developing picture books.  He finds the process of creating 'dummies' enables him to refine and develop his initial story ideas and as he says, 'turn ideas into something real'.  

A 'dummy' narrows your focus and helps you to see problems earlier, in either your manuscript or your illustrations or both.  Arree recommended the 'creating a dummy process' even for writers without illustration skills, and encouraged everyone to have a go.

It was fascinating to see his process through developing his recent picture book 'Mixed' and how important the dummy book was in that creation.

 

Webinar Masterclass with Colleen Doran, artist and Graphic Novelist

On 21 October I took part in the Comics Stripped Bare Series of webinars hosted by Comics Mastermind, this time with the fabulous Colleen Doran.

What a great webinar - Colleen spoke of her creative process behind the creation of her graphic Novel, Troll Bridge, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's short story.  

Colleen shared her tips on developing illustrations, character and the reasons behind her creative choices, along with some great digital tips.  It was lovely to hear that she still prefers to work initially with hand-drawn work on paper, before moving to digital finishing and that she feels the 'hand in art' is still very important for her - that 'human element'.

When considering the elements to put into an illustration, Colleen suggests to ask yourself what can you bring to the illustrations, that hasn't already been put on the page with the script - to 'expand the prose'.  Also to think about the emotional impact and try to create a more 3D character.

Lots of food for thought!

Meet the publishers ! Publishing Panel

The recent CBCA Northern Sydney Sub-branch meeting included guest publishers Claire Hallifax of Scholastic/Omnibus and Chren Byng of HarperCollins.  These two wonderful children's and YA publishers were interviewed by author Louise Park, during a fascinating question and answer Publishing Panel session at Chatswood Library.  There was a capacity crowd of eager, enthusiastic writers, illustrators and librarians all hanging off every word!

The two publishers discussed what they're looking for in manuscripts, how many new authors and illustrators they take on each year, whether social media is helpful, and where they find new creators.  Again, the publishers emphasised not to write to the latest fad, but to write from the heart - and that is ultimately what will speak to them.

Some great tips - Claire said to think of a picture book as an 'audio-visual medium' and 'practice, practice...' your writing.  Chren recommended reading your work aloud, especially picture book texts, and even better, to get someone else to read your work aloud...

After the Publisher Panel, the meeting continued with a round up of recent CBCA-run events, included the fun Authors in the Hills and the very successful Lunch with the Stars at St Patrick's Seminary Manly.  The meeting ended with the latest 'Book Babies' being shared by proud writers and illustrators - including me, with my latest, A Christmas Menagerie (Christmas Press), for which I created colour illustrations.

Clever Wombat Christmas Menagerie Yvonne Low.jpg

Clever Wombat illustrations (A Christmas Menagerie, Christmas Press)

 

ASA Creators on Craft - Ann James

On 12 October, I took part in another Creators on Craft Webinar offered by the ASA, this time with wonderful illustrator Ann James.  Ann talked to us about working as an illustrator and how to improve and enhance our art portfolios.  I particularly loved one of her insights - 'let the line breathe', when colouring illustrations.